February 21, 2018

Gillibrand Leads Letter With Senators Schumer, Menendez, Booker, Blumenthal To Call On OMB Director Mick Mulvaney To Protect The World Trade Center Health Program

WTCHP Provides Monitoring and Treatment to More Than 83,000 First Responders and Survivors Who Became Sick After Exposure to Toxins at World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville Crash Site, WTCHP Depends on the Expertise from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Program, but President Trump’s Budget Separates these Two Programs

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led a letter with four Senate colleagues urging Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney to keep the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) housed in the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). President Trump’s budget would move NIOSH from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which could take away resources from participants, including access to occupational health experts and support from the leading federal agency responsible for addressing work-related illness and injury. The WTCHP provides monitoring and treatment to more than 83,000 first responders and survivors who became ill after working at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville Crash site in response to the 9/11 attacks. NIOSH was originally authorized to oversee the WTCHP by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

“The strength of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) comes from its full integration within National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and its ability to utilize the expertise of the Institute’s shared staff.” the senators wrote. “We are extremely concerned by the President’s FY19 Budget request to separate the WTCHP from NIOSH…. Separating the WTCHP from NIOSH, and moving NIOSH to NIH, is not only disruptive to the administration of the program, but will also have a direct adverse effect on the health and emotional well-being of the 9/11 community, many of whom spent countless hours working for Congress to reauthorize the program in 2015.”

Gillibrand was joined by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here and below:

February 21, 2018

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney

Director

The White House Office of Management & Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Mulvaney,

            We write today to express our concern regarding the President’s FY 2019 Budget proposal to move the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Under this proposal, the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) would be left as a freestanding entity within the CDC, removing the program from NIOSH management and supervision as intended by the bi-partisan legislation passed by Congress three years ago to reauthorize the program for 75 years. Without the institutional support provided by NIOSH management, we believe that many of the first responders who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses and disabilities will be put at unnecessary risk.

            NIOSH is the leading federal agency responsible for developing and implementing recommendations for the prevention of work-related illness and injury, and supports programs to improve the health and safety of workers. NIOSH’s expertise in responding to occupational health and safety concerns allowed them to develop the first monitoring and treatment program for 9/11 first responders exposed to dangerous toxins, and to oversee the first WTCHP as authorized by the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. Since then, NIOSH has made tremendous progress in providing medical monitoring and treatment to the more than 83,000 9/11 first responders and survivors who face disabling injuries and illness caused by their exposure to the toxins at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville Crash site.

            The strength of the WTCHP comes from its full integration within NIOSH, and its ability to utilize the expertise of the Institute’s shared staff. We are extremely concerned by the President’s FY19 Budget request to separate the WTCHP from NIOSH, and do not believe that your office fully understands the important role that NIOSH Director, Dr. John Howard, who has overseen the many iterations of the WTCHP since its inception, plays in ensuring the health and well-being of the 9/11 health community. We are extremely concerned that the success of the program will be unable to continue if it is separated from NIOSH.

            Separating the WTCHP from NIOSH, and moving NIOSH to NIH, is not only disruptive to the administration of the program, but will also have a direct adverse effect on the health and emotional well-being of the 9/11 community, many of whom spent countless hours working for Congress to reauthorize the program in 2015. We urge your office to immediately withdraw this proposal and ensure that those battling illness and living with disabling injuries caused by 9/11 toxin exposure do not have to live with the added burden of fear and uncertainty that this proposal will disrupt their care.   

Sincerely,